Beyond the Obstacles

Beyond the Obstacles

May 28, 2024 • Rev. Mindie Moore

A View From the Top, Week 5: Beyond the Obstacles

May 26, 2024

Joshua 14:6-14

Intro self.

Final week of our series, “A View From the Top” where we have

been looking at different mountaintop experiences in the Bible.

And today as we wrap up, we’re going to be exploring what it’s

like when we SEE where we want to go, or we SEE what we

want...and there are some obstacles in the way.

My family used to live in Pasadena and one of our favorite

places was (SLIDE) Griffith observatory. It’s such a cool spot

because you have these 360 panoramic views of Los Angeles.

And if you look west, especially, you can see all these famous

and exciting things. You can see down into Hollywood. You can

see where my favorite restaurant is. On a clear day, you can see

all the way to the beach. It’s awesome!’s also LA. So even though you can SEE those places,

getting to them can be a real challenge. If you’ve ever driven in

LA or just seen a movie, you KNOW that getting from point A to

point B, even if they are just a few miles apart can be a

daunting task. To get from the observatory to the nearest

beach SHOULD, in theory, be a straight shot. Except there’s this

little thing called a mountain range. And so you have to go

down and around the mountains, onto the freeway, which is

probably bright red on Google maps, at all hours of the day,

and that adds on miles and traffic and lots of time.

So (SLIDE) sometimes, we must navigate through obstacles to

get where we’re hoping to go.

And that brings us to this story of Caleb and Joshua and the

divvying up of this piece of land that you heard in our scripture

reading today. I want to tell you a little bit about Caleb, if

you’re not super familiar with him already. We first meet Caleb

all the way back in the book of Numbers, he and Joshua are two

of the leaders who Moses sends to explore the land that God

has told them they will inhabit. And so they go, and this group

of leaders bring back a complicated report—they say that on

one hand, the land is awesome; it’s got everything we need or

could want; it’s the “land flowing with milk and honey” which

sounds a lot better than this wilderness that they’ve been

hanging out in for awhile.

BUT—the land is populated. And the people that live there are

intimidating, they’re scary. And so instead of celebrating all

these great things that it seems like God is setting up for them

in a new place...the leaders start to panic. They say, there’s no

way we’re going there. God’s clearly made some kind of

mistake and we need to bail on this plan; it isn’t safe!

So things quickly begin to spiral into chaos. And it’s IN the

chaos, and it’s in the midst of all of that, that we hear Caleb

speak up. He tries to provide some kind of balance to all this

fear and says I actually think we’re going to be ok. I think God is

going to be with us and we can do this.

And it’s a very inspirational moment...but you know people

don’t listen the first time, so there’s more pandemonium and

Caleb and Joshua take a stand. And as they do that, they call

the people to faithfulness and to remember who God is and

what God has done for them.

So that’s the beginning of Caleb’s story. And today, we come to

a spot pretty close to the end. In that story I just told Caleb was

a young man. Now, he’s 85 years old. Moses is long gone,

Joshua is in charge and they are in the land, finally, and in the

middle of this process to divide up the land that they have been

acquiring among the leaders.

And it’s kind of a complicated system. It goes back to this thing

that Moses says in Numbers 34, that they were going to need

to have a way to divide up and take care of all this land they

were about to be in charge of. And they were going to do that

by casting lots and seeing who got what. So it’s a bit of game of

chance, on who is going to get what and end up where. You

might really get some prime real estate, or it might just be ok.

There’s not a ton of control here. And you can imagine that’s

kind of stressful because this is going to be where your family,

your tribe that you represent, this is going to be where you live

for generations. Depending on who you are and what you’re

trying to do, where you end up matters a lot.

And I know you may not have come to church on Race Day to

learn about ancient near eastern land allotment processes. I

don’t know why not, but it feels possible. But here’s why this

matters: I want you to understand the obstacle that Caleb was

facing here. I want you to understand that it was significant, it

was systemic, and it had consequences that would make a very

real impact on his future. He was up against something that

could have very permanently gotten in the way of where he

wanted to be.

And so Caleb has to navigate this obstacle. He has to use his

faith and his resources, and one of his biggest resources is that

he knows the FULL extent of what Moses had to say about

dividing up land, which was that it DID have a randomness to

it...but it wasn’t completely by chance. Because beyond setting

up this lot system, Moses had said something else too. He said

that to the largest tribe went the largest land, and guess who

Caleb represents? The largest one, the tribe of Judah, and that

means...he’s entitled by LAW to have this thing that he wants.

Now, even though he’s got that going for him, that doesn’t

mean it’s easy. And he has to be a little bit assertive about

getting what he wants here. He has to speak up and remind

people of this law. He has to say, “I know who I am and I know

what God has for me.” He has to remember that even though

he’s getting older and even though this feels like a sticky

situation...God is still at work.

You know, sometimes we have to remember that too. That no

matter how hard things get, no matter how tired or irrelevant

we might feel, no matter how overwhelming the thing in front

of us might be, we have to remember that

(SLIDE) Our stories do not end with the obstacle.

And we think that sometimes, because that’s human. We run

up against something that feels bigger than us, beyond our

control, and we can make the mistake of believing that when it

gets hard that means it’s probably time to throw up our hands

and walk away. We think that the thing we want would be

better for someone else or maybe that it’s just too much and

we don’t have what we need to be part of whatever “it” is.

But I love this story of Caleb here because he is aware that just

because there’s an obstacle doesn’t mean that it’s not the right

thing or he’s not supposed to pursue that path. And even

though he runs into something that feels really challenging and

difficult, he doesn’t shrink away from the challenge in front of

him—he actually leans in. He pushes back. He reminds the

people of who he is and what he knows to be true. He KNOWS

who God is and he holds on to all of it. Despite the fact that

there could be a million reasons to back down...Caleb keeps


And what Caleb does here, it benefits him in the short term,

but it goes so much further than him. If you look at v. 14 it says:

(SLIDE) So Hebron still belongs to Caleb son of Jephunneh

the Kenizzite as a legacy today. This was because he

remained loyal to the LORD God of Israel.

The fact that Caleb had enough faith to move through the

obstacle in front of him, that was what sets up the future; it

sets up success for a whole group of people. It shapes this big,

collective story that the people carry forward. This book of

Joshua, it was likely written HUNDREDS of years after these

events would have taken place, so that means this was handed

down likely by word of mouth, people wanted to tell this story.

And this was written at a time when the people writing it—they

weren’t IN that land anymore. They were most likely living in

exile, away from their land and their homes, but this legacy was

SO POWERFUL that they were still talking about it. Even though

they were encountering their own obstacles...Caleb’s story was

still making an impact. His legacy still mattered.

As I was thinking about this idea of legacy, and especially as

we’re talking about this on Memorial Day Weekend, it made

me think about my husband, Zack’s, grandpa, (SLIDE) Donald

Moomaw. He was a WW2 Vet. He flew B-26 planes in Europe

and amazingly came home to tell the story. And he and Zack’s

grandma, (SLIDE) Betty, lived to be 92 and 93 and are both

buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

And Don and Betty created this very intentional legacy with

their family. It really mattered to Don that future generations

knew their family story. It really mattered that they knew EACH

OTHER and were connected even as Don and Betty moved into

their elder years.

And that might sound simple, but it wasn’t easy. In this case

the obstacle faced as they tried to build these family ties that

would really last was just plain geography! They had to contend

with the fact that their family was scattered ALL over North and

at one point even South America, through multiple states and

countries and different phases of life. But because of them, and

their love, and their intentionality in bringing people

together...we overcame the obstacles to make it happen. In

fact, last summer (SLIDE) we all got together in Ohio to

celebrate what would have been Don’s 100th birthday. Neither

he or Betty still living, but the legacy being lived out. And from

all over the world, to Burr Oak State Park, we kept creating that

story that meant so much to them. I don’t know that Don and

Betty could have predicted anything like that, but their actions,

their ability to persist despite the obstacles in front of them,

those things absolutely set the stage for that legacy to become

a reality.

And sometimes we break through obstacles and we reap the

benefits like that. Sometimes we get to see our legacy,

sometimes we don’t, but it’s clear that we are walking

alongside God to create something good for ourselves. And I

think that’s so important—to pay attention like that, to know

who we are and whose we are, to create those sorts of lives.

But I don’t want to ignore that there’s another side to

overcoming obstacles—sometimes it’s not about us, or for us at

all. (SLIDE) Sometimes God calls us to be barrier breakers to

make a way for someone else.

There’s an important element of this in Caleb’s story. Because

while you’ve got this tenacious faith that Caleb brings to the

table, you’ve also got the wisdom and leadership of Joshua

working alongside it. Joshua had a lot of power here and he

could have squashed the whole request. He could have said,

“Caleb, you’re great, we’ve been through some things together.

But I'm not going to do it your way.”

He could have. You and I have all probably been on the very

frustrating receiving end of something like that. When someone

COULD have opened a door, they COULD have made a way for

us, but for whatever didn’t happen.

We could all tell that story. AND. My guess is we could all tell

the kind of story that Joshua embodies here too. I want you to

think about your own life. Think about a time when someone

took a risk and put themselves out there and looked out for

what would help you get where you wanted to go. Think about

that person who opened the door for you and helped move

that obstacle.

I don’t know that we always fully appreciate that in the

moment. But when people do that work on our behalf, we have

to acknowledge that it can come with so much risk. It turns out

fine for Joshua in this story, but it might not have. People could

have been angry, they could have turned on him as the leader.

At the very least, it could have been a giant headache and he

could have gotten a lot of angry emails. Moving obstacles on

someone else’s behalf is not always the work that is going to

make everyone happy or make you, as the obstacle-mover,

super popular.

But it is absolutely work worth doing. I wouldn’t be here,

sharing this message today, if people hadn’t done that for me.

You might know that I grew up in a tradition where THIS—a

woman preaching the Sunday morning sermon...that wasn’t a

thing that I EVER saw. It wasn’t a thing I even knew was


And so when I started feeling this call to go in ministry, it was

like “oh this is we do this? Is this ok?” And there

WERE barriers. There WERE obstacles. But what I also knew is

there were so many people in my corner. There were people

who knew my story and knew my calling and even though it

didn’t make any sense with the rules that they were told were

in place, they still said YES to me. They moved barriers out of

the way. They put me in places to serve, they connected me to

more people, they created opportunities to live out this call

that I was feeling. They made a way for me on purpose.

And if it hadn’t been for those people and their willingness to

break down obstacles and do all that...could God still have

moved? Sure. Because God can make a way when it needs to

be made. But I think this story is so much more beautiful and

powerful because people came alongside what God was doing

and let themselves be part of that work.

And if you have a story like that, where you can name the

people who have helped you get past the obstacles in front of

you, then my deep that you also have a story where

you’ve done that for someone else. Because sometimes we are

the ones who staring down the obstacle, working so hard to be

seen and to move to the place we want to go. And sometimes,

we have a unique position to be the one who can help make a

move. We get to open the door for someone else. Sometimes

God puts us in this position of being like Joshua, where we have

a voice, we have influence, and we have the knowledge of what

could be possible for that person in front of us.

So as you hear this story today, where do you find yourself?

What do you need to take from it? Maybe action looks like

standing up for who you are and what you know God is doing.

Maybe you need to make a bold move. And maybe, God is

putting someone in your life right now who you have a unique

opportunity to help make a way for.

Wherever you find yourself, (SLIDE) when we can be bold

enough to move beyond the makes an impact.

We’re going to close today by singing this song called Do It

Again. And this song may or may not be familiar to you, but

what I think is so powerful about it is that it flows from this

story of Joshua and Caleb and it really reminds us that even

when the obstacles we encounter are SO big...God still moves.

Let’s pray.